Testimony of Gemeniano Brual on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Bauan, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Testimony of Gemeniano Brual on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Bauan, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Testimony of Gemeniano Brual on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Bauan, Batangas in 1945

This page contains the testimony of Gemeniano Brual of Bauan, Batangas atrocities committed by the Japanese in his town in 1945. The pages contained herein are now declassified and were part of compiled documentation1 of war crimes trials conducted by the United States Military Commission after the conclusion of World War II. This transcription has been corrected for grammar where necessary by Batangas History, Culture and Folklore. The pagination is as it was contained in the original document for citation purposes.

War Crimes Trial in Manila
Photo taken during the war crimes trials in Manila.  Image credit:  U.S. National Archives.

[p. 1763]


called as witness on behalf of the Prosecution, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:


Q (By Captain Pace) Give your name, please.
A Gemeniano M. Brual; Bauan, Batangas.
Q Where do you live?
A I live, sir, in Bauan, Batangas.
Q How old are you?
A I am 21 years old, sir.
Q Did you leave in Bauan, Batangas on February 28, 1945?
A Yes, sir.

[p. 1764]

Q What happened on that date?
A It was on February 28, 1945. at about 8 o’clock in the morning. After my breakfast, I went downstairs and seeing and hearing the town crier telling all the people that women, men, children, young and old, should go down to the church to have a meeting, I at once rushed to the house and told my mother. She told my brother-in-law to go out of the town and evacuate the village for fear that there might be, or something might happen inside the church. So, I decided, together with my three brothers, to stay in the house to watch our belongings.

As I was sitting by the porch of my house, I saw the Mayor — the puppet mayor — and he saw us sitting and told us “You go down there to the church.”

I said, “Mayor, what shall we do in the church?”

He told us, “No, there will be no meeting. We are going to greet, I suppose. [a] coming Japanese colonel” or something like that.

So, the brothers and I went down to the church and there gathered all the women, children, young and old, right inside the church.

Q Where were the men?
A What, sir?
Q Where were the men?
A The men? We, together with the men, women, children, young and old, arrived concentrated in the church.
Q Everybody was in the church?
A Everybody was in the church, sir.

[p. 1765]

Q Alright. What happened then?
A Afterwards, the Japanese got all the women and children, and I don’t know where they placed them, but all the men were inside the church, concentrated right inside that place.
Q You mean, the men and boys were still in the church?
A Yes, sir.
Q Alright. Go on.
A And soon as the Japanese told us to seat eight persons in a pew. That is, a pew is a chair that we use in the church. We were told to seat eight there.
Q How many pews were there?
A There were around, I guess, 41; close to all in all, we were 328.
Q 328 men and boys seated in the church?
A Yes, sir. But afterwards, for about five minutes, there came another bunch of men, and I have the calculation that it was around or swelling the number to around 400.
Q 400 altogether, you mean?
A That might be. That is my calculation, because others came after the counting. After that, the Japanese told us to line in single file and at the same time those international robbers resorted to robbery right inside the church, right inside the house of God.
Q Wait a minute. Describe what they did.
A They searched the people and right from my own

[p. 1766]

self, four thousand Japanese money of “Mickey Mouse money,” as we call [it], were taken from me. Besides two pesos, 70 centavos Philippine currency. And those international robbers, as I say, getting those new clothes, hats, and what it is, that from the innocent people right inside the church. And they were all my friends.
Q What happened after they searched you?
A After they searched us, we were very hungry and we couldn’t get away out of the church because we were guarded by Japanese sentries armed with automatic rifles, with fixed bayonets, but that’s all. And afterwards, we were told to go out of the church, each bunch — each bunch of men containing a hundred each.
Q Which group were you in?
A And I was [in] the first hundred.
Q Where did you go?
A And I had in mind that we would be taken soon, and consequently, I found out that we were taken down to the house about one hundred yards from the church right to the house of Mr. Senerino Bautista, a businessman and one of the richest families in town, and we were taken right beneath the house, below the house.
Q Underneath the floor of the house?
A Yes sir; underneath the floor of the house.
Q How high off the ground was the house?
A It was around — my height is about 5’ 2” and maybe it is twice, ten feet or something like that.
Q And the hundred persons in your group were put in underneath Bautista’s house; is that right?

[p. 1767]

A Yes, sir.
Q And what happened after you went in there?
A It was very dark and I could see outside of the house and around the roads were Japanese sentries, all with fixed bayonets. As I was inside beneath the house, beneath the floor of the house, there soon followed another hundred men and soon, we were crowded, and I had in mind that all the men in the church were no all together right in the house of Mr. Senerino Bautista.
Q You estimated that there were four hundred men in the church, is that right?
A Yes, sir; swelling the number to four hundred.
Q And that all of those men were put under Bautista’s house?
A Yes, sir.
Q Alright. What happened after all the men got under there?
A As soon as the Japanese sentry locked the door, it was crowded. We were boxed like sardines, and it was about 1 o’clock daytime, 1 o’clock. It was more than lunchtime and we were very hungry. When we were below the house, I could hear the moving steps of the Japanese right above the house, and for about a few seconds, I heard a command of the Japanese Captain, and soon came the running of Japanese boots inside the house. After that, there was a sizzling sound.
Q What kind of sizzling sound?
A It was a fuse, because I could hear and see it right beneath the — beneath the floor of the house. And soon

[p. 1768]

there came — there followed an explosion. Therefore, I was unconscious when there was an explosion.
Q After you regained consciousness, what did you see?
A When I regained my consciousness, I found out that I was covered by human flesh, debris and full of wounds. I got my wounds in the ear and my head and my right breast and my ass, and the wound was through and through on my right leg. I don’t know what hit it. After that, I found myself full of blood and half-naked, and I could see right from the place where I stayed — that’s why I didn’t run away, because there were Japanese still throwing hand grenades at us and soon the splash of human flesh. After that, there was shooting. Those who were able to escape right from the place where we were blasted, the Japanese were shooting those survivors. Then came [the] Japanese entering the house, bayoneting and spreading ones. So what escape was there? I pretended, myself, I was dead and when the Japanese had gone away, I stood up, but oh, I found out a Japanese carrying a can of kerosene.
Q What did he do with the can of kerosene?
A Then, after that, I ran away and I went down to the adjacent house and I found that the Japanese carrying the can of kerosene was pouring it right on the human bodies. But there were still some live ones, only they didn’t have any strength to get away. But soon, the Japanese poured the kerosene gas right on the human bodies, and afterwards, there came smoke and so it was on fire. And I could hear those crying for their mothers, for their beloved children and wives.

[p. 1769]

Q Did the house burn down then?
A No. The house where we were concentrated, it was ruined because of the blasting and after that, they burned it.
Q Did everything that was left burn?
A Yes, sir.
Q Including the people underneath it?
A Yes, sir.
Q Were people killed outside the house?
A Yes. When I ran away, I could see people who were killed outside of the house. Maybe, they were shot or bayoneted. And time came when I happened to evacuate to one of the air-raid shelters just to be welcomed only by my friends who were dead.
Q Were there more dead in the air-raid shelter?
A Yes, sir.
Q You don’t know what happened to them, though?
A I don’t know, but they were full of blood.
Q Let us go back to the church. Included in the 400 men what went there, were there anybody except civilians?
A There were civilians and four priests. One priest survived.
Q Three priests and one lived?
A Yes, sir.
Q Out of the 400 people, how many died and how many lived?
A As to my calculation, we were around from 50 to 60 who survived and 350 died.
Q How many Japanese were present at this incident?

[p. 1770]

A I guess those Japanese sentries guarding the house of Senerino Bautista and the church were about 25 to 30, but besides the Japanese guarding the whole town, I don’t know how many number of Japanese were they.
Q I mean, right there; right there at the church and the house. You say there were about 30 or 35; is that right?
A Yes, sir.
Q And were there any officers in charge of them?
A Yes, sir. By the name of Captain Hagino or Captain Haguno.

CAPTAIN PACE: you may cross examine.


Q (By Captain Sandberg) Did these 400 people in the church constitute the entire male population of the town?
A Yes, sir. And some of them were — I think about 35 were not from the town. They were just evacuees or happened to be right there.
Q But would you say that every man, boy, and child was in the church?
A Yes sir; every man, sir.
Q Boys?
A There was only one boy.
Q Only one boy?
A One small boy. The rest were their fathers.
Q I see. The rest were adult men?
A Yes, sir.
Q And under the house, it was also true that the entire male population, that is, of adults, was under the house?

[p. 1771]

A All the men were under the house, sir.
Q Let me rephrase that. Was every adult male under the house?
A Yes, sir. All the males were under the house — beneath the house.
Q Mr. Bautista was under the house with you?
A Mr. Bautista?
Q Yes.
A No. He evacuated, sir, down in Mindoro.
Q Was this downstairs place enclosed?
A This —
Q This place under the house, was it an open place or was it closed up?
A It was closed up, sir.
Q Were there any doors?
A There were doors, sir.
Q How many doors were there?
A Two doors, sir; the front door, that is, the two doors only.
Q Just two doors in front?
A Yes, sir.
Q When you people were put in there, was the door locked?
A Yes, sir. We were all locked and the windows were closed.
Q And after the explosion, when you regained consciousness, was the door still locked?
A No. There was a small gap, but the door was already ruined and there was a small gap where I intended to pass

[p. 1772]

through it.
Q And did you make your escape through the door?
A No, sir.
Q How did you make your escape?
A There was a small gap right — that is, right the opposite of the front door. There was a small gap down there because the front door, that is, the road, and I might be seen by the Japanese. So, I intended to pass through the back of the house.
Q How many Japanese came in after the explosion?
A There were about two Japanese who were bayoneting, bayoneting the bleeding ones.
Q And you saw them bayoneted before you left?
A Yes, sir. I saw the bayoneting.
Q And did the Japanese see you before you made your escape?
A I don’t know, sir. He didn’t see me or as if he saw me, he should have bayoneted me.
Q Was that because it was dark?
A No. Because I was buried right and above me where I laid down flat, there was a piece of board and at the same time, [the] flesh of human bodies, and I would say that I was right in an air-raid shelter made of human bodies. That was why when the bayoneting came in and the throwing of grenades, I was not able to be hurt.
Q Were the Japanese still there when you made your escape?
A No, sir.
Q They had already left?

[p. 1773]

A They had already left, but there was one who was coming to the place where there were dead people. So, intended to run away. He had no weapon because he was carrying a can of kerosene.
Q At the church, were there any Filipinos who were helping the Japanese?
A There were Filipinos there — what?
Q Who were helping the Japanese?
A I guess none, sir.
Q Well, wasn’t the Mayor helping the Japanese?
A Yes, there was the Mayor, the puppet Mayor.
Q And he was working with the Japanese in lining these people up in the church?
A Yes, sir.
Q Were there any other Filipinos?
A There was only the Mayor together with this civilian M. P. of the Mayor. But they were also killed right in that place.
Q The puppet Mayor himself was killed?
A The puppet Mayor was taken to another place, I don’t know, and after the massacre, I learned from the people that the Mayor was killed in a special condition. He was tied up or something and I don’t know what happened to him. But he was not killed right in the same place where the people were massacred.
Q Was the Mayor or his policeman a member of the Makapili?
A I don’t believe so. They were not, sir. We didn’t have any Makapilis right in our town. And this M. P. — they were caught, I think.

[p. 1774]

Q Did you have any guerrillas in the town?
A We didn’t, sir.


CAPTAIN PACE: Thank you very much.

(Witness excused.)

[The transcription of Gemeniano Brual’s testimony before the Military Commission provided above was extracted from Reel Number 68 of the U.S. Military Commission files online at the Internet Archive. Below is provided the transcription of his testimony after his recall. This excerpt is taken from Reel Number 69.]

[p. 1792]


recalled as a witness on behalf of the Prosecution, having been previously duly sworn, was further examined and testified as follows:


Q (By Captain Pace) Give your name, please.
A Gemeniano M. Brual.
Q I will remind you that you are still under oath in this proceeding.
A Yes, sir.
Q On February 28, 1945, or any day since then, has there been any fighting in the town of Bauan between the Japanese and the Americans, or between the Japanese and the guerrillas?
A There was not even a single fight right before February 28, 1945, and after that date. There was not even a single fight, any bombing, or artillery fire.
Q No fighting there, either; right?
A No, sir.

CAPTAIN PACE: You may cross examine.

Q (By Captain Pace) Are you referring to the 28th, now?
A Yes, sir.
Q And the period preceding the 28th?
A Yes, sir; preceding and right after February 28th.

CAPTAIN PACE: You may cross examine.


[p. 1793]

CAPTAIN PACE: Thank you very much.

(Witness excused.)

Notes and references:
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Gemeniano Brual in U.S.A. v Tomoyuki Yamashita,” part of the U.S. Military Commission compilation of war crimes documentation, online at the Internet Archive.
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